On one hand, you have Geraldo Rivera admonishing the dead kid about wearing a hoodie because it looks too “gangsta.” And then you have New Gringrich admonishing the President about noticing the kid was black. No two ways, Fox, it’s either racist or it ain’t. Add to this the “stand your ground” fans backing up shooter Zimmerman saying that he was only doing his job–self-appointed and told by the 911 operator not to pursue–and you start to wonder if their heads are in so far, will these guys ever see daylight again?
Fortunately, Melissa Harris-Perry took care of Geraldo, and the electorate looks like it will be taking care of Newt. And Paul Krugman reveals the truth about American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate shills behind the “stand your ground” laws.
Which leaves us Dick Cheney. The sight of all the people wishing him well with prayers for a speedy recovery—including those who’ve accused him of being a war-profiteer, a war criminal, and responsible for the sinking of the US reputation to historic lows by ‘OK’ing tortures the Japanese were hanged for after WWII—warms my heart. This is the mark of a civil society. We do live by the Golden Rule: Do not do unto the previous Administration as you would not have the next Administration do unto you.
Now a churlish man would be making comments about Mr. Cheney’s heart transplant like “Where’d they find one that small?” Or, “This one is perfect, Igor, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Or, “Wow, the old one really was made of stone–this will fetch a high price on EBAY!” But we won’t do so. Instead, we’ve decided to honor Mr. Cheney with some verses of a song:
Dick had to have heart,
Cheney really needed heart.
They kept saying that you didn’t have one.
But here’s one for a fresh start!
You never lost hope,
When they kept on saying nope,
Like with those weapons that could never be found,
Those visions were sound, your critics dopes.
Don’t you think of Halliburton,
And the profits from the war,
You will only feel some hurtin’,
And who knows what you’d outpour
to an enhanced interrogation!
So pick up the phone,
And when you hear the dial tone,
Tell your friend that you are sorry you graced
with buckshot his face,
it wasn’t smart,
Now you’ve finally got heart.
No applause please, the patient is convalescing.
Now, President Obama has decided to revive the military tribunals for Gitmo prisoners–you know, the ones he promised to end during the election campaign? And Republicans are dancing all over Nancy Pelosi for allegedly being untruthful about she knew about prisoner interrogations, in order to distract the country from the lies that President Bush told us about “We don’t torture.” Right is left, up is down, in is out…
In other news, after all that brouhaha about Obama addressing the Notre Dame commencement, a little over 2 dozen protestors showed up and Obama entered to a standing ovation and gave his speech to thunderous applause. The official White House transcript includes a protestor’s boo that Katharine Zaleski said showed his commitment to greater transparency. While being open about dissent is admirable, being transparent about the little things while maintaining secrecy about the big ones is backasswards…Bizarro World.
There is a long-standing tradition of treating previous administrations and their officials with kid gloves. You publicly give them the respect of having done whatever they did for the best reasons and especially, if there was anything fishy about it, you treat it as a hands off situation. The time to have done something was while the administration was in office–and that means use of the constitutional impeachment procedures. The problem is that the Bush administration committed high crimes and misdemeanors. They broke our laws against torture and international treaties against it. Yet, back in 2006, Nancy Pelosi took the impeachment process off the table, effectively leaving only one course of action, investigation and possible charges only after the change of administration.
Now the Democrats have been acting as if they were complete innocents in the matter. But it seems that Speaker Pelosi had been informed about the use of torture, and tacitly supported it by not doing a goddam thing about it. Nancy is also being disingenuous and trying to say that congressional leaders had only been informed about the possibililty of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, in other words, she knew that torture MIGHT be used, but not that torture actually WAS being used. Come on, now, Nancy, if a CIA spook tells you he might have to do something, chances are he’s already doing it. But this goes to the heart of the matter. Maybe the Bush administration is directly culpable for this crap, as former VP Dick Cheney is proud to admit, but there are a lot of people who are complicit in that they didn’t DO ANYTHING to stop it even though they were in a position to object or, if their voices were overborne by the “soft on terrorism” rhetoric of the time, leaked it to the news media.
Which brings us to another complicit group. The news media were cheerleaders for the so-called War on Terror. At some point in time, if there had been rumors that we were practicing torture, and there had, the news either suppressed the stories or said, so what, these were the people who attacked America. It wasn’t until the Abu Ghraib photographs started showing up on the internet that they were forced to break the story. Now the line many editors are taking is that we are ALL complicit because 100% of the American people were behind Bush’s war and nobody cared if we stepped on a few innocent Iraqi toes if it meant making America safer. What these apologists are forgetting is that a substantial portion of the American people were not gung ho about invading a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 and which did not have any weapons of mass destruction to threaten us with. But these people, through the complicity of the news media were marginalized and vilified as traitors, commies, anarchists, cowards, surrender monkeys or Frenchmen.
So this is the problem that Obama faces. If he allows the release of the photographs, they are probably so awful that the clamor to do something will be tremendous. But this will open a can of worms that will not just affect the former administration, but also members of his own party, journalists and god knows how many others who had the power to do something but stood by and did nothing.
But some of us didn’t.
See: Poor President Obama. He’d REALLY like to get past this little torture problem that the Bush administration dumped like a load of crap on the Oval Office rug. But it just keeps coming back. Now the claim is, that in spite of his campaign promises of transparency, he will oppose releasing the torture photographs and that this will somehow protect the troops. There’s a possibility that this is true, but this writer believes that the president is being disingenuous. What not releasing the photographs is going to do is protect the president from having to do something about the perpetrators of these crimes. And I don’t mean the grunts and CIA operatives who actually performed the “enhanced interrogations” but the chain of command that issued the orders, back to and including former President Fratboy–I mean, Bush.How Americans Came to Support Torture, in Five Steps
Analysis: Obama revives old arguments on photos
Lawyers scoff at W.H. photo claim
Babes in TortureLand: Media Torture
But what intel did we get? Do you realize that Dick Cheney has seen the surface world more times in the last three months than in his entire tenure as Vice President? As usual, his current surfacings have been to tell us how bad a President Barack Obama is, how he’s endangering us with his reckless transparency and, of course, how effective our torture program was to gain information. Of course, we can’t find out if this is true because the documents are classified but Darth Cheney, aka, the Penguin, told us he made a formal request that they be declassified. Well, guess what? He isn’t VP anymore, just an ordinary mortal like the rest of us. He COULD have declassified the information himself before he left office, but naturally he assumed that Obama would just shut up about his predecessors misdeeds since that is the way the game has traditionally worked. But it seems Cheney didn’t ask the CIA about this, he made a FOIA request to the National Archives who, as of 2006, were 4 millions pages behind in filling FOIA requests. I don’t think they’ve caught up.Marcy Wheeler of the Empty Wheel Blog dug through the 9/11 commission reports and found only 10 pieces of information obtained through the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. The first three, to give examples of the quality of info we got, were: 1. “Abu Zubaydah describes his role running the Khaldan and Derunta training camps.” 2. “Abu Zubaydah describes Rahim al-Nashiri’s success as a recruiter.” 3. “AZ describes Bin Laden’s popularity.” (See Marcy Wheeler: 83 Waterboardings, 10 Pieces of Intel in the Huffington Post. Wow, that must have saved innumerable lives, Mr. Cheney.
Notice however, that Cheney never really addresses the moral issue of whether or not we should torture. His argument is strictly, “It’s effective, therefore we should do it.” And apart from being little Miss Innocent, it’s seems Condi (Condoleezza) Rice was actually one of the FIRST to OK waterboarding Rice OK’d CIA waterboard request as Bush adviser. All the top people, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Tenet were involved. Only Colin Powell appears to have been out of the loop, but remember, CIA is part of the State Department, which he headed.
In other news, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has a new growth someplace on his body. It looks like…a conscience! I’m sure the Fox News health plan provides for the removal of these growths, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at HIS reaction to the memo problem. We have to agree with Shep’s response to Cheney. It doesn’t matter if it works. We’re America. We don’t torture.
The problem is–sometimes you DO have to take sides. Sometimes, staying in the middle doesn’t give you the optimal position, but a NEGATIVE optimum. In other words, if there’s a valley in between the two sides instead of a hill. Take these torture memos that just were made public. Omigod, the Bush administration really did authorize torture, they were fully aware of what they were doing and all the steps they took were simply to look like they weren’t committing war crimes. What to do, what to do? I know–we’ll make the documents public, but then we’ll say that we won’t prosecute anyone for it. That ought to satisfy both sides.
Well, now the conservatives are mad because the documents WERE made public–after all, now Al-Qaeda will know what kind of tortures we performed and aren’t allowed to use anymore! Despite the fact that both according to international laws and OUR OWN LAWS, torture is forbidden. And the liberals are none too happy either, because we’re letting these war criminals from George Bush on down to Private Joe Blow off scot-free. After all, they thought they were doing their patriotic duty and besides, everyone below the administration level was just following orders. I guess all those Nazi war criminals we hanged can now demand re-trials.
I think Obama suffers from Oprah-itis. He wants everyone to love him. Whenever possible, he tries to take a middle course in order to make everyone happy. The financial crisis, the tortures of the prior eight years. After all, Solomon tried a middle course with that baby the two mothers claimed. But if you take a middle course between good and evil, you wind up being neither, and not being good is not a good thing for the man who ought to set our moral compass as a nation. Let us leave behind the pain and suffering. But Obama, we were the ones who caused the pain and suffering. We CAN’T forgive ourselves for something we did to SOMEONE ELSE. Only they can forgive us. We need to show we mean business about no longer accepting torture as one of our standard operations–and we must take a hardline and punish those who authorized it. Otherwise, there’s no justice. We’re like the major leagues, looking away when everyone is using steroids because the big home run hitters bring in the crowds. If you get caught cheating, well, naughty naughty, promise you won’t do it again.
Yes, let’s ease on down the road. But let’s not leave a pile of crap where we’ve been. We need to clean it up and if a few people won’t like you for it, Barack, tough tushies. Let’s have no more “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards given out to people who did wrong and knew it.
BTW, April 20 is National Pot Smoker’s Day. While I am not a pot smoker…ummmmm, these days…I did partake in my youth. Consequently, I find it appropriate to nooge our President on another subject, legalization. Yes, it may only save a few billion dollars and that isn’t going to solve anything, Mr. President. But it will free up jail space for criminals who actually deserve to be behind bars, free the police to pursue real criminals instead of some silly potheads, and take money away from the drug gangs, as well as opening up marijuana to be used for legitimate medical purposes. You smoked when you were young–don’t be a hypocrite. And don’t snicker about it just to please the right wing.
And that’s the news.